It’s a sight that fills parents with dread: the quivering bottom lip and the welling tears that mean a toddler is on the cusp of having a full-scale meltdown.
And the stress of attempting to reason with a bawling child can make it hard for parents to contain their frustration - especially when passersby feel it is appropriate to comment on the situation.
A mother recently explored this challenge by writing an open letter to her toddler on the NetMums parenting website, after she became angry after the child had a tantrum at a supermarket.
“To my dearest little strop-bucket,” opens the letter. "I thought a trip round Tesco might be a nice little outing for us both. Ha!"
The mother describes how "it was all going well at first" but "somewhere around the bakery aisle, it all went wrong – and man, did it go wrong!"
"The signs were there […] But foolishly, I ignored them," she writes about her toddler "wriggling" in the supermarket trolley seat and "whinging."
"Suddenly, you were in full-scale meltdown. Red-cheeked, open-mouthed, screeching, tearless meltdown."
The mother then writes how she regrets taking her child out of the seat: "you threw yourself face down on the floor and increased the volume by another 50 decibels."
Recalling how she didn’t sleep the night before, "felt fat, frumpy and disgusting" and "hadn’t had a sensible adult conversation in days" the mother admits that she "said a bad word when you ramped the volume."
"And when some patronising old bat walked past me and muttered, ‘I wouldn’t have let any of mine behave like that,’ I lost it."
The mother then lists that she shouldn’t have "rammed you back into the seat" or thrown the shopping at the checkout girl.
"I shouldn’t have had a tantrum of my own when we got back to the car. […] I shouldn’t have shouted at you to be quiet, slammed the door so hard it nearly fell off its hinges, and then put my head on the steering wheel and burst into tears."
She goes on to tell her child that she will "one day" had a similar experience with an "unpredictable toddler" at the supermarket. "You’ll experience the excruciating embarrassment and utter powerlessness of watching your child throw the world’s biggest wobbly in the middle of the biscuit aisle."
She concludes: "I’m sorry if I didn’t react in the way you needed – and that even though I get it wrong sometimes, I love you more than life itself."
The letter sparked debate among mothers on the Netmums Facebook page, with some sharing their own tales of supermarket tantrums and other sharing their tips.
"This was me on Monday in tesco," wrote Facebook user Kirsty MacLean "Except id only gone in for 3 things, and didn't even manage to get all of them before she burst the milk all over the aisle & sat in it!!!! [sic]"
Wow I bet this resonates with a lot of Mums. Sometimes it is just so nice to know you aren't the only one," wrote Michelle Brunetti.
"I just walk away and leave mine and she soon comes running . I used to be terrified to go out when my child was a toddler,now I don't care what people think. Everyone with kids understands," Nicola Dunsford assured other parents.
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